Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It a Good Time to Go into Journalism? Are You Thankful to be a Journalist?

I have a confession to make. Despite the love I have for my career as a journalist, I think it's pretty natural to sometimes be depressed about the prospects for my industry as we continue to read about layoffs and publications folding.

So when I saw this post on the Flip The Media blog -- Why It’s a Good Time to Go Into Journalism -- my first reaction was "what is he smoking?" But the title was intriguing enough for me to read the post, and writer Mark Briggs, CEO of Serra Media and publisher of Journalism 2.0 (free!), makes an effective case. In his post, he offers three premises:

  1. Journalism has a bright future. "Experimental news operations are popping up all over the Web as this decade draws to a close. Some have become sustainable businesses in a very short time. Others are still searching for viability while finding new ways to cover issues and communities," writes Briggs. I have written about these organizations both here and over at the National Association of Black Journalists Digital Journalism Task Force blog. Some of the ones of interest are MarylandReporter, Baltimore Brew, Voice of San Diego, and Texas TribuneDNAInfo, to name a few.
  2. That future is in your hands. "Journalism needs you. It needs someone who can bring a fresh approach without the baggage that burdened earlier generations," he writes. I see myself straddling between old school and new school journalism, and this old dog is working hard to learn new tricks to stay relevant in the future.
  3. Journalism will be better than it was before. "Transformation and evolution are messy, emotional processes. When they produce advancement for society and business, they are seen as healthy and worthwhile, but not necessarily to those on the front lines," writes Briggs. I have seen first hand my old school brethren continuing to resist making the changes needed to be relevant. They want to stick to the old ways, convinced that the old ways are still the best ways. I firmly believe that you can stick with the basic tenants of journalism while taking advantage of all the tools and technology out there that enhance your journalistic efforts.
And this gives me the perfect transition, to a post I saw on the Knight Digital Media Center's Online Journalism Review blog: How thankful are you for your role in journalism today?

The poll, done by Robert Niles, is completely unscientific and only had 58 respondents. But I still think the numbers are worthwhile as media companies continue to adapt -- sometimes painfully -- to the new journalistic world order. Thirty percent say they have a job in journalism, working for someone else, and are thankful for it. Fifteen percent say I have a job in journalism, working for myself, and am thankful for it.

I encourage you to take a look at the poll and take your own temperature on the issue. Despite everything, I still love journalism in general and my job in particular. I don't know a whole lot of people who are paid for their lifelong hobby, like me!

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